My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Well, I tried this once this winter, as a hand-me-over from Julie with a very lukewarm rating. It didn't grab me, either, but I kept it around and I kept hearing about it and seeing it in bookstores and such. Working through my "read this summer or donate" pile, I got to this and took it on our luxury anniversary hotel stay--and I really loved it! The format--a compilation of emails, memos, letters, voice mails, etc., involving Bernadette Fox and stitched together with commentary from her daughter, Bee--is tricky at the start, because the shifting perspective can slip by a hasty reader (ahem, yes, me). However, there are some very funny passages, and as the book goes on (I stopped reading 1/3 through the first time, so reread starting at about a 1/4), the plot clarifies and the characters really gain texture and interest. Semple does a great job of presenting unreliable narrators and allowing the reader to figure out their unreliability: I missed that part the first time through and found the story too judgmental and flat. This time, however, I discovered the novel to be a warm, funny, involving story about people, the way we present ourselves to others, and how families function. Highly enjoyable!
Rough Weather by Robert B. Parker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Considering all that the Spenser oeuvre represents (overuse of "said,"; an unaging protagonist; inside jokes that stretch back over the 20 books of the series; completely unrealistic scenarios and characters. . . ), Rough Weather is pretty much fun. The chapters were usually at least 10 pages, instead of the 3 that characterize some of Parker's skimpier efforts, and the plot also featured a tad more development than some. Hawk was around a lot, and Susan, though present, wasn't as annoying as she can sometimes be. Muted though this might sound, for Spenser fans, I think this one is a hit.
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Well, it's 9:10 pm on a chilly and soon-to-be-rainy night, and I just read 24 pages of Dickens's Hard Times, which I'm considering as an AP Lit book, but which I haven't read since high school (probably sophomore year. That would be. . . 1978-1979. Yikes). I may have mentioned that I am trying to do regular bouts of school prep so that I can have a more sane and organized year, and so that I can give myself official summer time off as well, rather than feeling generically guilty all summer and freaking out in August (trust me, it happens, and it's not pretty). Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are "supposed" to be my work days, but so far that's only happened one week. Today, after Andrew and I returned from our wonderful anniversary luxury-overnight-and-trendy-dinner in Belfast, I put in some desk time since it is Tuesday, but I realized that what I really need to do for a bit is read.
I have several books (ah, that's three at the moment) that I need to read or reread for possible class texts, and one that I have to read for our learning area leader group, with two more coming soon through inter-library loan. It's weird to have reading be homework again, and it's weird to have reading be my schoolwork again, especially since I am so geared toward doing: I want to make a list or plan an unit or create a rubric so that I can pat myself on the back for my progress. Chomping through 24 pages of Dickens somehow doesn't feel so accomplished--and imagine how I'll feel when it's nice again and I can read outside and count it as "school work"!
Ah, the hurdles I create for myself: I love reading. One great loss during the school year is that I can't read as much as I'd like to--and now I am reading. How odd that my Puritanical "must be a human doing, not a human being" finds that so hard to simply settle in and let unfold. Fifty and still amazing myself: I guess that's an accomplishment!